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Putnam school honored for computer coding initiative

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- One of Putnam County's middle school science teachers was recognized by county school board members Monday for one innovative hour spent with students that earned her statewide recognition -- and $10,000.

Erika Klose, a teacher at Winfield Middle School, introduced the "Hour of Code" to her classroom curriculum this year. The campaign, part of the annual Computer Science Education Week, was held last week by Code.org, a nonprofit group that wants to expand computer science education.

"Amazingly, there are fewer kids learning computer science today than a decade ago," said county Schools Superintendent Chuck Hatfield. "We do as much as we can, and as much as our facilities will allow; this is part of our ongoing initiative for a one-to-one student to device ratio."

The "Hour of Code" features lessons from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, as well as interactive lessons centered on popular games like Angry Birds. The program has already reached 10 million students, and Code.org has rewarded the students at Winfield Middle with a $10,000 grant award for furthering their computer education.

Hatfield presented Klose with an oversized check Monday evening, but according to her, the money has already been spent.

"I've purchased 32 laptops for the classroom -- they're on their way right now," Klose said.

Hatfield also announced that all Putnam high school juniors are participating in the first state-mandated Compass Test. The test, an American College Testing exam, is designed to evaluate students in different subject areas and place them in courses relative to their needs, according to Cindy Daniel, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

"It's a gauge of readiness for students who plan to attend college," Daniel said. "The courses aren't 'remedial' -- they're designed as a kind of booster that encapsulates what students will need to focus on going into college."

Hurricane Town Elementary School, the first elementary school in the state to be given Lighthouse status through the Leader in Me program, will hold its Leadership Day today starting at 9 a.m. at the school.

The "Leader In Me" program is a nationwide initiative based on the bestselling book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," by Stephen Covey. The program is employed by 1,370 schools across the country. Fifty-six of those schools -- including Hurricane Town Elementary School in Hurricane -- are deemed "Lighthouse Schools," for developing a leadership culture that has impacted the community.

"Because of the success we've seen there, we're in the process of implementing the program in all 13 of our elementary schools by the end of the school year," Hatfield said.

Hatfield said the school promotes the growth of the "whole child" through integrated curriculum, community engagement and the school's Lighthouse Team, which consists of six people. The team is responsible for establishing the school's leadership goals.

The "Leader In Me" program is in line with Putnam County's BASES program, introduced to the county's middle and high schools during the last school year. BASES, or Behaviors, Attitudes and Skills to Enhance Success, encourages an emphasis on attendance, respect, eye contact and other social behaviors important to developing well-rounded students.

The next regular meeting of the Putnam County school board will be held Jan. 7 at 7 p.m. in Winfield.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.


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